Highlight of the 3 February 2022 Extraordinary Council Meeting

Date

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Release

Council to apply to IPART to maintain services and rates

Council will formally apply to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to maintain rates at their current levels for additional seven years, ten years in total to 2031.

Administrator Rik Hart said this does not mean a rate increase as the temporary Special Variation of 15% (including rate peg) determined by IPART in May 2021 is already included in the rates which have been applied for the 2021-22 financial year.

“Maintaining the rates at current levels means Council can maintain services, continue productivity improvements and meet debt repayments. This is not a year on year increase, we are asking that IPART retain the status quo for a further 7 years,” Mr Hart said.

“The current three year Special Variation only provides temporary stability. While borrowings have been arranged and savings have been identified, Council’s position remains unsustainable if the current rate variation is not maintained for a further 7 years. Not only would basic services be in jeopardy, but Council would be unable to meet its borrowing obligations without further drastic service reductions that would compromise the living standards of the community.

“It is clear from consulting with residents and ratepayers that they want services maintained, and in many instances expect Council to invest more in services,” Mr Hart said.

“Council’s financial recovery plan put in place over 12 months ago is working and we are meeting all major milestones and targets, and currently at 6 months of the financial year we are ahead of budget.”

Extensive community consultation about the proposal has been undertaken since the end of September 2021 when Council formally notified IPART of its intention to make a submission. Over the last four months ratepayers and residents have been engaged via stakeholder meetings, direct submissions, a Community Reference Group and surveys exploring usage and satisfaction in services and whether future investment should be more/same/less; and identification of services that could be reduced, if they needed to be. At the conclusion of the service level and scenario engagement, Council engaged on the strategic documents that form the basis of Council’s planning, actions and budgets.

“We had no choice but to place Council’s key strategic documents on public exhibition over the Christmas and New Year holiday period, due to the timeframes and required actions that from part of IPART’s submission process,” Mr Hart said.

“Let me be clear, this is a repeat proposal from last year. We are simply reapplying for the shortfall of 7 years we did not receive in last years’ application. The community has had multiple opportunities to comment over the past 12 months and will have further opportunity to have their say through the IPART consultation process that follows Council’s submission, as well these important strategic documents will be re-exhibited in April 2022 to allow for further comment,” Mr Hart said.

The next steps are that Council will formally submit the application to IPART by 7 February 2022 and IPART will undertake further consultation with the community prior to their expected determination in May 2022.

For more information about Council’s submission, FAQs, Fact Sheets and the Consultation Summary and Report, go to yourvoiceourcoast.com

ENDS

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Last updated : Thu 3 Feb 2022